Once I had a plan and a few options
for drive train choices, I started to watch the paper for a donor
vehicle. I had decided I would go with either Toyota 22re w/ 5 spd
or a 1.6l w/auto or 5spd. Basically I was looking for a low mileage donor
car so I would not have to delve into engine work (been there done that and had
enough the first time). I saw a few Toyotas go thru the paper, none were
fuel injected but I still called on them because you can convert to fuel
injection. The biggest problem was every single Toyota donor truck had
180k or more miles on the motor. During the same time period I
hadn't seen any promising Trackers or Sidekicks for under $3000.
Another week or so went by and I started
checking some of the salvage yards. I could get a 1.6
motor/tranny/t-case combo for about $1600, but that didn't include the wiring
harness or ECU that would be needed. After talking with a friend I
gave Randy at Driven Auto Parts a call. I explained what I was doing and
what I was looking for and discovered he had just bought a 96 Sidekick that had
been rolled. It had a 1.6 16V motor, auto tranny and transfer case with
60k on the odometer, perfect. We agreed on a price and I agreed to
purchase the parts. One benefit to going this route was Randy had one of
his employees remove all the parts from the donor car and labeled all the wiring
harness connections. This probably saved me 3-4 weeks of time.
Here's a list of what I ended up with:
1.6 16V motor w/3 speed automatic transmission
and transfer case
ECU with complete wiring harness
Front and rear driveshafts
The seats & shifter
A bunch of misc parts.
Here's a few shots of the motor and tranny.
So what is the plan? Well, since I first
started researching the drive train I had come across another option. I am
going to try running a divorced Samurai case behind the Sidekick
powertrain. This setup has been used successfully in the past (Randy
Ellis's first RCCA buggy comes to mind) and I suspect running the automatic
transmission is what makes it work reliably since there will be a lot less stress on the drive train
compared to a 5 speed transmission. You can read up on how an automatic
transmission works at this
link, paying close attention to the torque converters role in the mechanism.
Stock Sidekick T-case, 6.1 Samurai T-case and
Here's what the gearing will look like.
The reduction in the high range will limit the top speed but should keep the rig
from feeling sluggish with the tall tires. The gearing when both cases are
in low should be really nice, 140:1 which would feel like 280:1 with a manual
transmission. Another reason I decided to go the divorced transfer case
route is I will already have the Samurai case and gears. Worst case if it
doesn't work out I can sell the Samurai case and gears, get a Toyota case and
have the sidekick case modified so the Toyota case bolts behind it. The
changeover would require a new crossmember but the driveshaft should not need to
be changed. If the Samurai case works I figure I'll save $5-700 in
Now that I have a power source I am still
looking for a good rolling Samurai frame and tub.
Update 6-13-02 - Since I can't actually start
cutting metal yet I have been collecting pictures of cages and tubed out buggies
to get inspiration for Project MP. The above two pictures are the results
of several nights work. I am not sure how the cage will tie in with the
frame yet but this will be the overall look I am going for.
I modeled the body for reference, not sure how
much is going to stay yet.
Update 6-26-02 - Here's the final
design. I am sure I'll add and subtract some stuff when I start building
it but this is the general shape I'd like it to take. For the most part
the new "body" is pretty close in size to the original.
Wheelbase is shown at 97", with most of that additional length gained by
moving the rear axle backwards. I am planning on making the spare tire
holder removable and hinged so it can be rotated out of the way to get to the
large storage chest below it or remove for local trails. The area above
the fuel tank will be for storing my cooler/bags, etc.